Will operate on the eyes

Here’s a photograph from the December 11 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an ophthalmologist who was going to perform eye surgery on the King of Siam.

Prajadhipok (1893-1941), also known as Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua or Rama VII, was the King of Siam (as it was then known) from 1925 to 1935. As a result of a revolution in 1932, he became a constitutional monarch instead of an absolute monarch; he abdicated in 1935 over disputes with the new parliament. After abdicating, he moved to England, where he eventually suffered a heart attack and then passed away.

A search for J. M. Wheeler turned up a link to a November 1938 ophthalmology journal that contained both an article that he wrote and an article commemorating his passing away.


Dismembered body mystery

The front page of the December 11 1930 Toronto Daily Star included this photograph of a young woman who had been found, dismembered, in a cavity in a wall in Birmingham, England.

It took several Google searches to find a reference to the unfortunate Mrs. Thick, but a search for “ivy emma Birmingham 1930” revealed that she appears in a chapter of a book titled More Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in Birmingham, an excerpt of which appears in Google Books here. Her husband, Edwin Claude Thick, was convicted of her murder and consigned to a lunatic asylum for the rest of his life.


Successful in by-election

In 1930, Canada was still closely enough linked to Britain that a picture of an MP who had won a British by-election could be printed on the front page of a Canadian newspaper. Here’s a picture of the successful candidate as displayed in the December 11 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (1903-1973) was the Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale when he won the by-election in the East Renfrewshire riding for the Unionist Party (not the Conservative Party) in 1930. He remained an MP until he became the 14th Duke of Hamilton in 1940.

The Marquess, later Duke, was a noted pilot: he was part of the first squadron to fly over Mount Everest in 1933. In 1935, to understand the experience of the workers in his family’s coal mines, he worked briefly as a miner under the name of “Mr. Hamilton”.

In 1936, he was part of a multi-party British delegation invited by Germany to view the Olympic Games in Berlin, during which time he might or might not have met Rudolf Hess. In 1941, when Hess flew to Scotland to attempt to fashion a secret peace treaty with the British, he asked to meet with the Duke, who met with him as requested and then promptly notified Winston Churchill of his arrival.


First Hollywood then Broadway

Here is an ad from the September 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I find this ad fascinating because of the specificity of its claims:

  • Of the 521 important actresses in Hollywood, 511 use Lux.
  • 45 Hollywood directors think that the loveliest skin is important.
  • Lux is found in the dressing rooms of 71 of the 74 legitimate theaters in New York.

Which are the three rogue theaters? Who are the 10 nonconformist actresses? And how did they contact all 45 directors? More important than that: why did the copywriter choose those specific numbers?

Information on the three women who endorsed Lux in this ad (courtesy of Wikipedia, the go-to choice for the lazy researcher):

  • Constance Talmadge (1898-1973) was a silent film star, appearing in movies from 1914 to 1929. She and her two sisters, Natalie and Norma, mostly retired on the arrival of sound, and invested in real estate and business ventures. Sadly, all three sisters had problems with substance abuse and alcoholism later in life.
  • Dorothy Stone (1905-1974) grew up in a theatrical family: her father, Fred Stone, was in charge of a theatrical stock company. Her Broadway debut was with her father in Stepping Stones in 1923; she was apparently a big hit. She appeared on stage and in movies through the 1940s.
  • Isabel Jeans (1891-1985) was a British film and stage actress whose career on both sides of the Atlantic started in 1908 and lasted into the late 1960s.

After 33 years

The September 11 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained photographs of the recovery of a Swedish man who died in 1897 while attempting to travel to the North Pole by hydrogen balloon.

Salomon August Andrée (1854-1897) apparently passed away either from trichinosis or from carbon monoxide poisoning. The recovery of his body and that of the others on his expedition was a grand event in Sweden; they received a state funeral at which King Gustaf V spoke.

In more recent years, researchers have come to believe that attempting to travel to the pole by balloon was an ill-advised idea, and that the expedition died needlessly.


Misogynistic filler

Old editions of the Toronto Daily Star always contained a bunch of short filler articles that were about two or three lines long, thus allowing the typesetter to completely fill every column. Whoever was writing some of the filler for the September 11 1930 edition of the paper was someone who didn’t particularly like women:

Yes, I know they’re just jokes, but yeesh.


Defeating girl competitors

Here’s a photo from the August 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young man who was successful in a competition at the Canadian National Exhibition.

I might be imagining things, but I’m thinking that the caption writer was mocking Fred a bit here for having a hobby that was traditionally enjoyed by girls. But Fred Heagy appears to have done a whole lot of other things too.

A search for his name turned up an official CNE program from 1935 that includes him as the finalist in a piano competition:

There’s always the possibility that this was another Fred Heagy from Stratford, but I think this is the same person. Further searching led to references to Doctor Fred C. Heagy, who co-wrote a number of medical papers (including this one involving unanesthetized dogs), and to the Dr. Fred Heagy Bursary.


Kindly phone his present address

Here’s an entry from the Personals section of the August 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I keep hoping to be able to use the Toronto city directories to trace one of these requests, but I’ve struck out yet again. I searched all of the directories from 1915 to 1931 – and 1910 as well, and there was no Mr. C. Gordon on St. Germain in any of them. So much for playing Internet detective.


Marathon swim winner

The August 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had several articles and pictures related to the women’s marathon swim that had taken place at the CNE the previous afternoon. The ten-mile event offered a $5000 prize to the winner (equivalent to nearly $75,000 in 2020 dollars). The winner, a woman from Philadelphia named Margaret “Marge” Ravior, took over five and a half hours to complete the swim.

The articles in that day’s paper had somewhat less than flattering comments about Ms. Ravior. For example, the front page article referred to her as a “large lady of few words”:

She was also referred to as a “big, broad-backed girl”. Another article made a point of listing her weight:

Moving over to the sports section, long-time sports editor Lou Marsh referred to her as “husky, game, and powerful”:

The paper included a photo of Ms. Ravior:

In one of the articles, Ms. Ravior was asked whether she would do this again. At the time, she said no, but she came back: she wound up winning the event three years in a row. (The 1932 event has already been mentioned in this blog here.)

Lou Marsh’s article speculated on whether Ms. Ravior would be married by this time next year, pointing out that her trainer, Bill Boggs, kissed her in front of the movie cameras. However, she wound up marrying Canadian swimmer George Young; the marriage did not last. I have no idea what happened to her after that.



The want ad section of the August 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this rather unusual Miscellaneous item:

Phrenology is a pseudoscience that claims that human traits can be determined by measuring the size of the bumps on the skull. Its popularity peaked from about 1810 to 1840.

The text of this ad is a little hard to follow, but it looks like if you cut out 100 photographs of people and 100 newspaper clippings of unfortunate events, you would get a free book from Prof. Cavanagh. I’m going to guess that it was about phrenology.

Since the Professor was obliging enough to include his address in his ad, I was able to trace him in the Toronto city directories. Francis J. Cavanagh (sometimes listed as Professor) was about at the end of his career by 1930; he appears in the 1930 and 1931 directories, but not after that. But he is listed in Toronto city directories for many years before that, going back into the 19th century; I found a listing for him in the 1885 directory. So he’d been studying bumps for a long time.